TEAM NEWS | Harlequins Women vs Saracens Women (PWR - Rd 3)
Back-row Sophie de Goede admits she is relishing a second consecutive London Derby, as her side prepare to visit Harlequins this weekend.
After two bonus-point victories to start the campaign, the trip to Twickenham Stoop offers a huge challenge for de Goede's side and the Canadian was quick to talk up the rivalry between the two clubs.
"A second London derby in as many weeks is always going to be exciting. There’s a lot of history between the two clubs, so it’s special to be a part of it. We’re looking to keep up the momentum and we’re ready to get stuck in."
This will be de Goede's first time facing Harlequins since the 2021 final and she admitted that there was a hunger to win on Saturday, following defeat that day in Gloucester.
"The rivalry against Quins is something that’s part of the club. The rivalry gets ingrained into you. Last time I played Quins was that final that we lost. On a personal note, I want to avenge that, but from a team perspective, we’re really pushing to start with three wins in a row. We know this is going to be a good challenge."
Director of Rugby Alex Austerberry has made three changes to his starting XV for this clash with his side's historic rivals.
Kelsey Clifford shifts to loose-head prop, with Donna Rose coming into the starting XV for the first time this season alongside May Campbell.
Georgia Evans and Rosie Galligan continue in the second-row, with an unchanged back-row of Sophie de Goede, Marlie Packer and Poppy Cleall, after Packer recovered from a knock against Trailfinders Women.
At half-back Ella Wyrwas partners Amelia MacDougall, who starts in the absence of Zoe Harrison, whilst Sophie Bridger and Sydney Gregson continue in the centres.
Co-captain Lotte Clapp returns to the side on the left-wing, with Paige Farries shifting to the right-wing, alongside Jess Breach at full-back.
On the bench, Saracens have opted for a 6-2 split, with Bryony Field, Chloe Flanagan and Akina Gondwe providing front-row cover. Emma Taylor, Grace Moore and Sharifa Kasolo provide the additional impact off the bench for the pack, with Leanne Infante and Cara Wardle covering the backline.
Harlequins will be smarting from last weekend's defeat to Sale Sharks, and de Goede noted that physicality was going to be a huge factor come Saturday afternoon.
"Physicality at the breakdown is going to be key. We’re know they’re going to come out firing after losing last week at Sale. They’ll come with a lot of fire in the tank, but we need to exceed that ourselves and be the ones to set the tone from the first whistle."
Saracens Women's Team vs Harlequins Women:
1. Kelsey Clifford
2. May Campbell
3. Donna Rose
4. Georgia Evans
5. Rosie Galligan
6. Sophie de Goede
7. Marlie Packer (co-captain)
8. Poppy Cleall
9. Ella Wyrwas
10. Amelia MacDougall
11. Lotte Clapp (co-captain)
12. Sophie Bridger
13. Sydney Gregson
14. Paige Farries
15. Jess Breach
16. Bryony Field
17. Akina Gondwe
18. Chloe Flanagan
19. Emma Taylor
20. Sharifa Kasolo
21. Grace Moore
22. Leanne Infante
23. Cara Wardle